Head Coach Caleb Porter
It was a great game. Great win. Couldn’t come at a better time. We knew it was a big game in a lot of different ways and for a lot of different reasons. Playing a team that was at the top of the table who wanted to come in here and be able to celebrate [winning] a Supporters’ Shield, we didn’t want to let that happen. The guys were not going to let that happen here on our home field. It’s great to get back to looking like us - winning [and] beating a very good team. This will bode well for the next several games and obviously for the playoffs. It was the first time in 12 games, since the last time we played - ironically - Philadelphia, that we had a full-strength lineup. And I think it showed tonight. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely a playoff-type game. [There were] some crazy conditions with the wind. [There were] some mistakes both ways, but that’s to be expected certainly from our end getting back into a rhythm with that [starting] 11 being together for the first time, they needed quite some time. But, it was a team win and it took everyone to win the game from Eloy [Room] making saves, to Krisztian Nemeth coming off the bench and scoring the game-winning goal, to Luis Diaz serving the ball, to guys in the midfield battling and working; it was definitely a team win. I’m really proud of the guys.
On Eloy Room’s performance and the impact substitute players had in tonight’s win
I always say that it’s important that—collectively—that we’re stronger together. That’s always going to be our advantage. We have talented players, don’t get me wrong. When I say the team’s important and that’s our edge, that’s not taking away from the individuals. But, we feel like when we execute as a team, when we play the brand of football that we play - which frankly, over the last stretch of games, we haven’t been able to. We’ve had to do different things to try and get results, and change plans, and it’s been a bit of a mixed bag. But I think tonight, we wanted to get back to playing like the Columbus Crew and the way that we prefer to play. And we feel like if we do that as a team, that we’ll win games like we were at the beginning of the year, and like we’ve shown in the games where we’ve played our style. Within that, we need individuals to make plays, though. So, we don’t want to be a team so much that we don’t have individuals that step up. Whether it’s attackers pulling a rabbit out of the hat if they need to - to find a goal to win the game - or defenders stepping up and making little plays to win games on balls in the box, or whether it’s our goalkeeper. Our goalkeeper is in there to make saves. We prefer to not have him make as many as he made, but that’s also why he’s in there, and he certainly showed that if he needs to get called upon to help us win games, he can do it. He really showed his quality tonight.
On whether tonight’s victory re-establishes the Club as a threat in MLS
I don’t think inside the locker room - certainly amongst our staff or people inside the Club - that our belief in the group ever wavered. That’s really important throughout a season to keep a steady hand, keep your head screwed on right, make sure your guys understand the reality [and] that we keep our current perspective in mind, which is the most important [thing]. We went through a rough stretch, [playing] five of seven games on the road and we obviously had some guys out as well. We still didn’t make excuses. We didn’t obviously like not getting as many points as we wanted to. We didn’t accept it. But we knew the perspective on it. We knew obviously that at this stage in the season - getting healthy - that we would re-establish who we are as a team, and I think we showed that tonight. It’ll get better, too. [It was] the first time in a long time that we’ve been able to develop a little bit of chemistry. Of course, it’s good we have guys coming off the bench as well that continue to push and say, ‘I should be in there.’ That’s always important. It’s important that we have competition, and that’s a true squad.
Forward Krisztian Nemeth
On how his confidence feels after scoring the game-winning goal tonight and how he feels he is fitting with the rest of the squad
I just joined the team a month ago, so every day I feel much better. I [have] learned [about] the team and how to play [within it]. Of course, I came here because I saw the squad is very strong and we have a chance to win the League, and we are almost there. Then, the most important game of the season was coming, so that’s why everybody had to be ready. But, when I came in, I just hoped to help the team and finally, it happened. So, I am happy for the goal and for the win.
Midfielder Luis Diaz
On his mentality coming off the bench
To me, it doesn’t matter whether I’m starting a match or whether I’m coming off the bench. What matters is that I’m trying to help the team, and any time that I am given the chance to go on the field, I’m going to make the most out of it. But first and foremost, it’s always just helping the team and helping the team be better.
On his game-winning assist to Krisztian Nemeth
When I had the ball, I did see Krisztian [Nemeth] in that space. So, what went through my head was that I thought if I could get the ball over there in the far post, that he might be able to find it.